Today, would have been my father's 90th birthday. Sadly, we lost him right before Thanksgiving, just six months shy of a nine-decade milestone. In place of throwing a BIG gala as Dad had requested (Harry always loved a party - especially one in his honor), my siblings, our mother, his grandchildren AND great grandchildren had made plans to meet at the AIDS Grove in San Francisco this weekend to celebrate his life, along with the many friends he'd made during his last two decades volunteering there . . . . Clearly, in the time of Coronavirus, that's not happening.
Instead, we'll likely set up a Zoom meeting and reminisce online until such time as we can meet in "The Circle of Friends," and hold hands once more as we give thanks and say a small prayer in honor of all that's been sacrificed. Granted, those hands may be gloved, but I've no doubt that family and friends will eventually (and physically) reach out to one another in times of sorrow, pain, joy, or uncertainty once the fear of further contamination and spread begin to recede in earnest.
"Hello," came the phone call early Monday morning, "My husband and I are standing out in front of the house on Echo, and wondering if you can show it to us now?"
Uhhh . . . no, I cannot. (Have you been social-distancing on Mars?)
Instead I said, "I'm so sorry but Shelter-in-Place mandates have made showing homes very difficult, and certainly, impossible on such short notice. Do you happen to be working with an Agent?"
Okay, so we're 50+ days into SIP and many of us are feeling rather humbled. With news that it's still too soon to let our guard down, it's finally starting to sink in that how we live, work, and play is going to look very different from here on out - at least in the short term. (What happens long term is still anybody's guess.) As states begin to open up and businesses resume, we could find ourselves three or four weeks down the road having to retreat into our respective homes once more, and wouldn't that be a total bummer? (Yes, it would.)
When I consider the overwhelming challenges we are facing, it brings to mind "The Five Stages of Grief." In her book, On Death & Dying, published in 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the five stages of grief in the following order: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. While she later suggested that people's emotions weren't quite so linear when dealing with loss, I can't help but think how closely these five stages parallel my own personal journey these past few months . . . (I'm sure I'm not alone.)
"Don't come into work," I warned my sister, Jill, earlier this week. "You really don't want to be around me today.
That wasn't Coronavirus speaking, it was just a blue mood. Gratefully, everyone in my family is healthy, which is more than I can say for many others who have paid the ultimate price. For everyone on the front lines and for those who have unexpectedly lost cherished loved ones, theirs is a heartbreaking sacrifice I can't begin to fathom. So where do I get off with being out-of-sorts just because I'm forced to work with both hands tied behind my back? As Cliff often reminds me, "Suck-it up buttercup!"
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.